I absolutely loved this book. I'm eagerly awaiting the second.
I loved the way the story-within-the-story was set up. I love psychometry and think it I absolutely loved this book. I'm eagerly awaiting the second.
I loved the way the story-within-the-story was set up. I love psychometry and think it's under-used in horror in general. The main character, Eva, was pretty likeable. As were the characters within the shorter stories.
I love the idea of the institute itself. It has been done before but the author does a good job of making it pretty fresh. The files that Eva 'reads' are all done very well. They cover different time periods and the workers of the Institute all have their unique abilities. While the abilities are pretty typical for a supernaturally themed book they are used in a bit more inventive way. Not to spoil anything but in the first story, a typical haunted house type story, the way Cat implements her abilities is a bit different and really caught my attention.
At the entrance of 'Jonathan' I was afraid it was going to go into a more romantic direction but it did not. Yet. There's still the possibility looming in future books but I'm going to trust the author to not go in that direction.
My only problem with it (and it's pretty minor) (view spoiler)[Eva, for being presented as fairly bright throughout, is not too brilliant about the details of her contract. She's surprised to learn that once you join the Institute there are only three ways out: Death (from the job), Death (from being fired, it's implied) and well, Death (from quitting). For being fairly intelligent and the general secretiveness of the place you would think that she'd have figured that out. There's also a part where she laughs off something as being "unbelievable". Um, ok? You're a psychometrist, have just seen monstrosities in the Valley of the Kings (shades of Lovecraft there) but this particular thing is impossible. (hide spoiler)]
Other than that very, very minor issue which did not diminish my enjoyment at all, it is a great book start. There's some very good writing and creativity to be had. There also seems to be an over-arching story to it that leaves it a bit open at the end but the book itself is satisfactorily ended.
Which I love. Love. LOVE! I am getting so sick of books that do not end but end on cliffhangers specifically designed to make you buy the next one but does not resolve even slightly the current book you're reading. Maybe the authors think that it will urge you to buy the next book to see how it all turns out. Nope. It does the exact opposite for me. A good author with a series in mind can satisfactorily close the current book but leave some bits a mystery.
And only read the following spoiler if you've already read the book. Or if you're really, really curious. I won't judge.
(view spoiler)[Ok, I have to mention this because I love to brag, lol. But, I totally called who 'Jonathan' is right away. And also that he was Immortal somehow. That is the bit of mystery that the author wisely leaves for later. Also, in case you're wondering I'll save you a Google search. Elohim is one of the names of God. So, Jonathan/Cael is either God or The Devil. I can't wait to find out. (hide spoiler)]
I definitely would give it a look.
I received the book for free through http://www.scifiandscary.com/ (which you should really check out) in exchange for an honest review.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I absolutely loved this book. I love the mix of music and horror. Lyricism and madness and even though I haven't published anything I can relate to t I absolutely loved this book. I love the mix of music and horror. Lyricism and madness and even though I haven't published anything I can relate to the preface about music inspiring your creativity.
I was instead happily surprised that they were instead based on old folk tales and songs. Not only that but at the end of each story you get a mini-lesson on the songs, poems or tales that were the basis for each story. Also some of the singers that sang versions of them. I definitely plan on looking some up because some of the songs I'd never heard sounded very interesting. I was a little disappointed that Loreena McKennitt wad never mentioned for I know she did covers of at least two of the songs mentioned in the book. But I do understand they were pressed for space. And it may be only a disappointment to me because I'm a huge fan of her singing, particularly her poem and tale covers.
Part of the fun of reading them was trying to guess what poem/tale/song the story was coming from. Some were easy, some were hard and others I had no idea of as I'd never heard of it before.
They aren't exact copies. Each author does an excellent job of making each story their own without destroying the core concepts in the original.
The only three I thought were slightly off from the originals were: 'Just Another Black Umbrella' (it just didn't seem to fit the story at all of 'Proud Lady Margaret'. It reminded me much more of 'The Phantom Hitch-hiker' urban legend), 'Not Long After the Fair' seemed to not fit quite right with it's source and 'Long Black Veil' changes one of the major things that makes it a tragic tale.
This might be somewhat picky, you might say and maybe you're right. It's just my opinion and I loved each of the stories listed, despite the deviation from the original
The only story I could not get into was 'The Twa Corbies'. It was written well and i get it's connection to the source, it just wasn't my cup of tea. I think I'm just dystopianed out but other readers might find it more to their liking. I also didn't really care for one of the characters too much but I don't want to say why for fear of little spoilers.
Even though the cover is Grim looking (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) I'm hesitant to label it strictly horror. Perhaps dark fantasy might be a better category for it.
So, to sum up this lengthy little review I can only say again that it was a 5 star read for me and now I can't wait to get the second one.
There will be a longer review on my blog going into each of the stories and their corresponding songs. It will be spoilery but please give it a read when you've given this book a read.
Received the e-book free from Sci-Fi & Scary (link above) for an honest review....more
I was a little leery going in because I thought it might be boring with the author getting hung up on small, incidental but I was very happy to find I was a little leery going in because I thought it might be boring with the author getting hung up on small, incidental but I was very happy to find this was not the case.
The author presents his theories, proof and conclusions in a very easy to access manner and very funny sometimes.
While I didn't always agree with the author's conclusions they were interesting to read.
I've bought the rest of the series and will be reviewing them as well....more
This book covers quite a bit of ground, really, and it's a good place to start your research. The bibliography at the back is very helpfulA Fair Start
This book covers quite a bit of ground, really, and it's a good place to start your research. The bibliography at the back is very helpful.
She seems to go more in-depth when it comes to the French and particularly the Revolution. Which is understandable since it seems to be her forte.
The only problem I had with it has been mentioned before. The tone. She seems to be constantly chiding her readers for daring to assume to write HF without complete sources, bibliographies and making sure you have every last detail correct. Well, I'm not a huge HF fan, I mostly read it because I enjoy history, especially in-depth looks at the smaller details of life in different ages. But, when I do, it doesn't dramatically alter my trading experience just because strawberries and grapes appear together in a fruit bowl (which could theoretically be possible because by a certain time people were experimenting with greenhouses, heated walls, etc.)
I don't expect writers to have a totally accurate grasp on history. It just isn't possible. There are a lot more resources available which should make the more glaring errors easy to miss but she herself asked that even though she knew a certain building wasn't in existence at the time she wrote about she added it for local colour. And I honestly see nothing wrong with that. When I read HF I read it as such, fiction. I'm not expecting a treatise on accurate to the last detail Roman life. In short, I take it with a grain of salt and if it's interesting enough to me, I look up actual facts on my own.
If you are interested in Regency and Victorian history some great books I can recommend are What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool. The Annotated Jane Austen books by David M. Shapard. I'm not affiliated with these authors in any way but they are great resource books.
She also does recommend Wikipedia as a resource bit with the provision that you get the facts backed up by other sources. Basically her book boils down to "Do your damn homework people!"
I did think it was a tad I'll-natured to poke fun at some of the authors who were writing well before the internet was available to all and who may have had not very good access to research materials. Yes, there are libraries but some are better stocked than others. And yes, primary sources are best but should I be required to read French for the sake of getting my facts completely straight on a particular facet of everyday life in France?
All in all, it I'd a good place to start but don't finish there. As I said, the bibliography at the back is a great resource all on its own.
So, four-ish stars for content (although it seems a few reviewers have caught some mistakes as well) 'facepalm' to use an expression she uses throughout. Also. Writing. Like. This. Does. Not. Get. A. Point. Across. It's a little annoying....more
When I think of 'professional' level writing I think of major level writers, Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell,I really hate to give this one star but...
When I think of 'professional' level writing I think of major level writers, Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, for example. Those writers would not find anything useful in this book.
It would probably be good for beginners but even if you're just starting out and have read extensively you should know most of these concepts and many of her examples are cliches by now. She might be counting on her readers to use them creatively but readers/writers who are creative would most likely think of them on her own.
I also disagree with her use of 'Wimp Points'. According to her scoring system grieving for more than one sentence makes your character a 'Wimp'. Hesitating, even with good reason, gives a Wimp point. Although I agree with her advice on not using the words 'involuntarily' with regards to body functions or at least using them very sparingly.
There's a chapter where she gives examples, then strangely avoids giving examples because of 'copyright issues'. Except that one of the authors she mentions is from the Victorian period and no longer under copyright law. She could also use examples of her own work. Which brings me to the next part..
At the end she gives three of her own short stories and asks the reader to try to identify which techniques she uses. Which is fine but then she leaves it at that. I think a better way of showing it in action would be to try to let the reader see for themselves and then point out the different techniques she uses.
As for the stories themselves I honestly couldn't stand any of the three protagonists. In fact, in one, she actually says that leaving her abusive ex got her into a situation where she doesn't have the protection of a man. I think the ending is supposed to be frightening and or empowering but it's so unrealistic that I couldn't help but roll my eyes. Maybe they were written quickly for the book so I won't be too hard on them but I didn't enjoy any of them much.
If you're a beginning writer this may help you out. But if you've read at all in the genre of your choice then you should be able to recognize familiar tropes and cliches. ...more